An Apples to Oranges Comparision of a Gigabit Ethernet PHY to a General-Purpose CPU

Intel Core i7 Extreme Edition i980EE Broadcom BCM54980
Type 6 core CPU 8 port Gigabit PHY
Geometry 32nm 90nm
Operations Per Second 127 Billion instructions per second 4,800 Billion operations per second
Power 130W 4.0W
Operations Per Watt 976 Million Ops/W 1.2 Trillion Ops/W

Of course, this is an unfair comparison, but it shows you:
1) how much processing power goes into PHY (physical layer) products
2) how specializing a chip for a particular task can increase the number of computations per second
3) how ASICs can reduce power for certain applications over a general-purpose architecture by running an algorithm hard-wired rather than in software

BMW Announces Ethernet Plans

This EE Times article lays out BMW’s plans for Ethernet in the car.

Timeline of standalone gigabit copper PHYs

The following shows a timeline for gigabit PHYs from 1999 until today. Missing are Realtek and Attansic.

I updated the doc to show the trends on a per-port basis for cost and power. While the PHYs have different MAC interfaces, and some press releases quoted in 10K and others in 1K quantity, you can see the general trend toward lower cost and lower power due to Moore’s Law (and competition).